This is the time of year when many people focus on the birth of Christ. Scripture records this event in both Matthew and Luke as significant, with a multitude of the heavenly host praising God at his birth (Luke 2:13). The exact time of Jesus' birth is unknown, as Scripture doesn't specify when it happened. It seems unlikely to have been in the winter months, as the shepherds were keeping watch over their flock at night (Luke 2:8), an activity usually practiced from spring to fall. The traditional date of December 25 has a long history associated with it in human tradition, but not in the teaching of Scripture.

Certainly we are thankful that God sent his Son into the world, for without such there could be no forgiveness of sins, no relationship with God, no promise of eternal life. "But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Gal. 4:4-5). While Jesus had to be born to accomplish this, the focus of Scripture is not on his birth, but on his sacrificial life, death, and resurrection from the dead (Rom. 8:34). Because of this, Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). 

It's not the child in the manger that provides the means by which one can be saved, but the man on the cross. Paul reminded the Ephesians, "But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ" (Eph. 2:13). To the Philippians he wrote, "Being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:8). To those in Rome, he declared, "Concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead; even Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 1:3-4).

Many would no doubt prefer that Jesus remain a child, to be someone idolized and admired, but not to become the man who not only offers salvation, but a specific life to live for salvation to be realized. Paul exhorted the Corinthians, "And he died for all, that they that live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto him who for their sakes died and rose again" (2 Cor. 5:15). The measure of our lives is that of Christ himself (Eph. 4:15), in whom we live and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). This does not come from the infant, but the adult. It is the mature Jesus who offered himself for us that we are called to worship and serve. May we come to him and allow him his place in our hearts and lives, in submission and obedience, that the promise of peace spoken at his birth can be realized in us through his life, death, and resurrection. "For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, the testimony to be borne in its own times" (1 Tim. 2:5-6).

Robert Johnson, Longview, TX